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Houthis attack ship after US ‘terror’ designation

By AFP - Jan 19,2024 - Last updated at Jan 19,2024

DUBAI — Iran-backed Houthi rebels said Wednesday they attacked a US ship with a drone off Yemen, hours after the United States put the group back on a list of "terrorist" entities.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) security agency said a drone hit a vessel in the Gulf of Aden, shortly after the Houthis had vowed more attacks on shipping.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the group's naval forces targeted a US ship he named as the Genco Picardy in the Gulf of Aden with "a number of appropriate missiles".

Saree vowed in televised remarks that the group would continue attacks in self defence and in support of the Palestinians in Gaza.

However, British maritime risk management company Ambrey said the vessel that was attacked was a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier.

A "vessel has been hit on the port side by an Uncrewed Aerial System", the UKMTO said, adding that a fire on board had been extinguished and the "vessel and crew are safe".

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, it said Wednesday’s incident happened 111 kilometres southeast of the port of Aden, and added: “Vessels are advised to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity to UKMTO.”

Ambrey said the ship had been heading “east along the Gulf of Aden when it was struck by a UAV on the port side and on the gangway” which was damaged.

It said an Indian warship was in contact with the bulk carrier.

Earlier on Wednesday, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdelsalam had told Al Jazeera TV the rebels would continue attacking Red Sea shipping following the US decision to put the group back on a list of “terrorist” entities.

“We will not give up targeting Israeli ships or ships heading towards ports in occupied Palestine... in support of the Palestinian people,” he told the Qatar-based broadcaster.

He also said the Houthis would respond to new strikes on Yemen by the United States or Britain, despite already facing multiple rounds of air strikes in response to their targeting of merchant vessels.

The rebels say their attacks are in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is battling Hamas.

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